Ryan Crowley's journey from a time when doctors nearly amputated a leg hit a peak when he became a grand final star on Saturday.
The polarising Fremantle tagger, who was diagnosed in childhood with a benign tumour in his right leg, was epic in his effort to limit Hawthorn's Sam Mitchell to 12 possessions.
The enormity of the performance was most acute for family members, particularly his father Larry.
Father and son embraced in the Dockers' sombre rooms after the match. Crowley may have lost a game, but to his family he was continually winning in life.
"I remember when Ryan would wake up crying every night … he'd hobble and limp and his leg started to wither," Larry said.
"It was so tough as a parent to watch."
Crowley had originally been diagnosed with the hip disorder Perthes disease at the age of five.
Doctors said he would be forced to have a hip replacement and would never play sport.
"Eventually I decided to get a second opinion because it was my son's life," Larry said.
"I was lucky enough to find a person who knew the head surgeon at the children's hospital.
"He examined Ryan and wanted him to immediately get an MRI scan at Epworth. He had the results within an hour and when we came back in, he wanted to operate straight away.
"He said that in another couple of weeks he probably would have lost his leg.
"Had he been older, he probably would have had to get it amputated. He limped for another couple of years but after that he was fine. Thankfully he was young and that's how it panned out."
Larry said it was difficult for his family to understand how his son had become one of the most despised players outside of the Fremantle inner sanctum and the club's supporters.
"I find it amazing some of the things people say," he said.
"You talk to people and they'll say, 'I hate (Hayden) Ballantyne and I hate Crowley'. But when you meet them as blokes, they're the nicest blokes you'd meet.
"I think even most of the blokes they play on, if they knew them personally they'd actually really like them. Some of the guys Ryan plays on he's actually good mates with and others, they just don't get on with him."
Crowley, 29, was drafted from Victoria in 2002, but waited three years to make his debut.
He craves a premiership.
"It's real raw at the moment and I've never been so disappointed before," he said.
"As soon as I was walking off I was just thinking 'I can't wait to get back into it', and I've never had that feeling before at the end of a season. All you usually think about is having a bit of a break.
"It was great to be here on the big day and all I want to do now is get back here.
"It's been an amazing week."
… he'd hobble and limp and his leg started to wither." *Larry Crowley *